Mar 11, 2023
On the Use of the Car Talk Model to Fix Stuff
Car Talk, the car diagnostic show on NPR, used to be one of my favorite shows to listen to. Not because I liked cars (a mild loathing started when Dad decided that I had to rebuild the shell of a 1964 VW bug in order to get my drivers license). But because of the folksy and entertaining ways that they were always rescuing the hapless (like me) through what were essentially educated guesses based on minimal information.
Dr. Gurpreet Dhaliwal, like me, was a big fan of Car Talk. So much so that he decided to use Click and Clacks examples to the educate medical students on the arts of diagnosis. However, as I read the article I can’t help drawing the connection to what we do when faced with the unwinding of organizational chaos.
Click and Clack, as you listen to them, really follow the same model over and over in their show. First, define the problems, collect any relevant data, then use their collective knowledge to make a best guess on how to fix whatever they thought was wrong. In actuality, we do the same in our positions. We take what’s been documented in the literature, peer perspective and mix it with our experiences. Then, like Click and Clack, we come up with a set of ideas that may or may not actually work.
We make educated guesses.
Then we hand them off to users to pick them apart and test them. Some of the ideas work. Some need tweaking. Some are totally wrong because, for one reason or another. In which case, we add new information to the model. Then we regroup and redesign.
It really should be that simple:
Define the problem
Collect the data
Rinse and repeat.
Software development, product development, organizational design, Agile. We often like to complicate things by forgetting that things really are that simple. There is nothing fancy about it, and the second we try to make it complicated, to put a twist on it, we lose sight of what we are there to do.
So, let’s be more like Click and Clack.